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Can Manchester United afford to take a £50m gamble on Bayern Munich star Jerome Boateng?

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Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge put Jerome Boateng up for sale earlier this month by revealing the club will listen to offers for the Germany defender.

I dont hide the fact that we have a financial threshold, but it wont be low for sure. I know that Jerome is thinking about leaving, the Bayern chairman told Sport Bild.

Rummenigges decision to go public was peculiar, especially for a player of Boatengs pedigree. Confirming the doubts in Boatengs mind would only be used as leverage for any bidding club so its telling that Rummenigge felt the need to do so.

Manchester United – naturally – were alerted. Players of Boatengs quality rarely come on the market and Jose Mourinho is determined to sign an experienced centre-back to strengthen his defence.

Can Manchester United afford a £50m gamble on Jerome Boateng?
Jerome Boateng featured in just half of Bayerns league matches last season (Picture: Getty)

But such a public message from Bayern should send alarm bells ringing at Old Trafford. The last time the Bundesliga champions were so willing to deal with United was when they squeezed £14m out of the Red Devils for an injury-prone Bastian Schweinteiger entering the twilight years of his career.

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Bayern are demanding around £50million for Boateng but United must seriously consider whether the increasingly injury-prone German is the answer to their problems.

Jerome Boateng league appearances at Bayern Munich in last four seasons

2014/15: 27 appearances
2015/16: 19 appearances
2016/17: 13 appearances
2017/18: 19 appearances

Boateng has struggled with injuries throughout his career but hes featured less and less in Bayerns recent Bundesliga campaigns. The German has failed to feature in over 50% of league games in the last three seasons and made just 51 appearances out of 114 matches. The defender was a doubt for Germanys World Cup squad with a thigh injury but recovered in time to make Joachim Lows 23-man squad.

At 29, the signs are that Boatengs injury record is only likely to worsen and United can ill-afford another to add another injury-prone defender to a backline containing the likes of Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo.

Can Manchester United afford a £50m gamble on Jerome Boateng?
Mourinho wants a partner for Eric Bailly in Uniteds defence (Picture: Getty)

But the temptation for Mourinho is clear. Boateng, regardless of his price or injury problems, is a world class defender and Uniteds defence is over-reliant on the consistent brilliance of David De Gea to bail out those in front of him.

Boateng is widely considered to be in the top bracket of central defenders in world football but there was little evidence of such ability during a difficult 12 months at Manchester City.

Can Manchester United afford a £50m gamble on Jerome Boateng?
Boateng joined City from Hamburg in 2010 (Picture: Getty)
Can Manchester United afford a £50m gamble on Jerome Boateng?
Boateng made just 16 league appearances for City (Picture: Getty)

Boateng turned down Bayern to join City in 2010 when Roberto Mancinis side were still the new kids on the block but the Germans stint at the Etihad seemed doomed almost from day one.

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Boateng started the season with a knee injury but aggravated the issue on international duty when he collided with an aeroplane drinks trolley on a flight home from Germany.

The injury delayed Boatengs City debut until late September and when he eventually made his full debut he was used as an unfamiliar full-back role.

Mancini persisted in playing Boateng at full-back and the German blames the Italian for failing to allow him to prove himself at the Etihad.

The coach promised that Id play central defence — but I played right, I played left.Then I had another knee injury, I had an operation also, so I was not happy with the whole situation. And then Bayern came. – Boateng in 2015

Boateng enjoyed aspects of life in the north-west but the deterioration of his relationship with Mancini made a future at City impossible. The German didnt take kindly to Mancinis hard line approach and the pair were no longer on speaking terms by the end of the season.

Boatengs partner was due to give birth to twins in the run-up to Citys Europa League clash with Dynamo Kyiv in March 2011. The defender was present at the birth but Mancini wanted him to be available for the game in Ukraine less than 48 hours and Boateng was flown on a private jet to Kiev. City lost 2-0 and Boateng was an unused sub.

But while his relationship with Mancini was certainly a factor, Boatengs form was patchy and he rarely produced performances to match his potential.

Can Manchester United afford a £50m gamble on Jerome Boateng?
Boateng was limited to just 16 league appearances (Picture: Getty)

Mancini had doubts over Boatengs suitability to the Premier League and was particularly irate with the defender for pulling out of a challenge during an FA Cup third round clash with Leicester City at the KingPower Stadium.

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The 29-year-old, by his own admission, struggled to adapt to the rigours of English football but he believes the criticism was too harsh.

In England, you have to operate immediately.You actually need a period of settling in, because on the island, different football is played. But the English press does not give you any time for it, immediately raising it. This is not easy for a player – Boateng

Mourinho is keen to pair Eric Bailly with a ball-playing centre-back partner next term and few are as comfortable on the ball as Boateng.

Pep Guardiolas appointment at the Allianz in 2013 was crucial for Boatengs development, helping him to become an all-rounder in Bayerns defence.

The 29-year-old admits his game improved beyond measure under Guardiola, especially when it came to bringing the ball out from the back.

The coach [Guardiola] plays a very important role for me, Boateng told Goal in 2015.

He has clearly told me from the beginning what he wants from me. He has often told me, “You can still get much, much better”!

To hear that from such a world-class coach inspires you. Tactically, I have learned a lot.

Can Manchester United afford a £50m gamble on Jerome Boateng?
Boatengs won 14 major trophies with Bayern (Picture: Getty)

Guardiola worked tirelessly with Boateng on his use of the ball. Where before the German was used to feeding the full-backs who gave the ball in field, Guardiola was encouraging Boateng to cut out the middle pass and to speed up attacks by inserting the ball straight into midfield.

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With full-backs playing such a vital role in Guardiolas system, the Spaniard needed Boateng to be comfortable on the ball and he believes the German became one of the best in the world under his tutelage.

Boateng is incredibly important to us, Guardiola said in 2015.

I think he is one of the three best centre backs in the world at the moment.

More: Manchester United FC

Mourinho was furious with Ed Woodward for failing to pay Inter Milans asking price for Ivan Perisic last summer and felt the club lost ground on City, who met hefty price tags for both Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy.

Theres no doubt that Boateng would improve Uniteds defence but Mourinho must question whether he can afford to gamble on the Germans fitness and previous struggles with the Premier League.

Boatengs ability makes the risk tempting but with Guardiolas City side showing few signs in letting up, Mourinho has little margin for error.

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